Ohio History Journal

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The life of James H. Salisbury should be of interest to the

historically minded for three reasons. The first and least is that

he devised and popularized a dietary regimen still remembered al-

most half a century after his death. The second is that he was a

pioneer exponent of the germ theory of disease and carried out

laborious and painstaking investigations. The third and tragic

one is that had he persisted in his researches for another decade

after he abandoned them, he might have found some of the right

answers and thereby achieved everlasting fame. To us Ohioans

there is added interest in his residence in Cleveland during his

most active years.

Several biographic sketches furnish substantially the same

facts.1 The son of Nathan and Lucretia (Babcock) Salisbury, he

was born October 13, 1823, in Scott, a tiny village in Cortland

County, New York, less than ten miles south of the southerly

end of Lake Skaneateles. Young Salisbury attended Homer

Academy near his birthplace, a school presided over by Pro-

fessor Samuel Woolworth, later secretary of the Board of Regents

of the University of the State of New York. Then he went to

the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, New York, founded

in 1824 and credited with being the oldest school of science in

this country. Here he received the degree of bachelor of natural

science in 1846. His medical degree was obtained from Albany

Medical College in 1850, and in 1852 Union College made him

a master of arts. Inasmuch as he had been appointed assistant

chemist to the New York State Geological Survey in 1846 and

chief chemist in 1849, his medical studies must have been carried


1 National Cyclopedia of American Biography; Dictionary of American

Biography; H. A. Kelly and W. L. Burrage, American Medical Biographies (New

York, 1920); Who Was Who in America; Albany Medical Annals, XXVI (1905),

777; Journal of the American Medical Association, XLV (1905), 729; Historical

and Biographical Cyclopedia of Ohio.